It was a surreal feeling, locking the door for at least two years on all of our worldly possessions and realizing they all fit in a 1 meter cubed storage cage. Visualize that for a second. It’s not traveling nomad style minimalism but it is not much stuff to OWN.
I’d often wondered how we would recover from a fire or other disaster claiming all of our stuff. I thought it would take months, if not years to get over the loss of our furniture and paintings and mementos.
We quickly realised though that, with the exception of a few sentimental and irreplaceable items, we wouldn’t even miss the rest – not even for a month.
Bee and I have lived together coming up to seven years, and over the years had accumulated ALOT of stuff. Enough stuff that we were happy to pay an extra $866/month for a second bedroom to store it all for five years.
We had around 50 glasses and mugs (for two people), 3 sets of champagne flutes given as engagement presents, hundreds of items of clothing we were never going to wear, 8 camping chairs (again for two people), 20+ candles and candle holders, 24+ coasters (for when our 22 friends come over and more than 12 towels.
It was a life of excess – there’s no doubt about it. That was 6 months ago and since then we’ve moved to the other side of the world and started again from scratch, this time leading a life that is far more intentional with less of the material. We’ve reflected on the process of doing away with around 95% of our belongings and decided we’ve learned (at least) these five things;
1. We didn’t need a second bedroom
I spoke in my post Paying $1,000/night for my friends hotel room about the regret, and cost, surrounding our choice to rent two bedroom, rather than one bedroom, apartments for the past few years. Not only did this cost us an extra $40,000 in rent over those years (it seriously kills me to even type that) but we had filled the rooms with so much shit that we could barely face that task of trying to get rid of it all before we moved.
2. Our furniture was much bigger than it needed to be
Not only could we have saved money by having a one bedroom apartment – we could’ve saved even more by having a smaller apartment with smaller furniture. We are currently doing just fine sharing a relatively small fridge with one other person in our share house (there’s five of us and two fridges) but in Melbourne we needed a MASSIVE fridge to fit all of the food we were going to throw away because we weren’t meal planning properly and were eating out all the time.
Our couches were so huge they had to be lifted out of a second story balcony by a crane during one of our previous moves. Our six seater table was used by zero people for 99% of it’s life. Our massive buffet unit held all of the wine flutes and candles and other shit we never used and the huge entertainment unit in our spare bedroom held all the DVD’s we never watched thanks to Netflix, and was supposed to hold the TV but it was always in our room balanced on an ironing board because who the heck wants to sit in another room watching TV when you could watch it in bed?
It hard to explain the level of embarrassment I have within myself about how we were living. The hedonistic adaptation was real.
3. People gave us a bunch of shit we didn’t need (or even want) when we got engaged / married
Who the fuck wants to drink out of champagne flute studded with tiny fake diamonds shaped in the words ‘congratulations’? No-one. At all. Period.
4. We were keeping those things so we didn’t hurt someone else’s feelings
But who keeps this shit in case the person who gave it to you pops by and wants to see it? Almost everyone, ourselves included. We held on to this stuff for YEARS, thankfully only a few. I know some people who have had this sort of stuff in storage for DECADES. I’m just glad we got rid of it when we did.
5. We can hardly remember the things we DID keep
And then, the most unusual part. Six months after we clicked the padlock shut on the stuff we DID keep, Bee asked me how many of the things in the cage I could list.
I remembered my guitar, our wedding albums, our kettle and our Nutribullet but not much else. And that kind of scares me. Because whatever is in there was important enough to spend money on storing and keeping safe, but not important enough to be able to recall at a moments notice.
We are trying to be far more intentional in our purchases while in the UK. Apart from our bed, we aren’t making any big purchases or commitments while we are here and any purchases we do need to make we are trying to do a little smarter – like the £100 winter coat I desperately needed before the upcoming UK winter that I found in near perfect condition for £12 at the secondhand store in Bath the other weekend.
We are starting to discuss what our plan looks like when we eventually get back to Australia, but I think it will involve a much smaller place and far more deliberate and functional purchases.